Two Central Goldfields Shire councillor seats have toppled, to be filled by new incumbents following the local government elections at the weekend.
High profile councillor for Paddys Ranges ward, Cr Chris Meddows-Taylor has lost his spot, by a narrow margin, to Maryborough businessman John Van Beveren.
The other big change is the loss of Maryborough ward councillor Annie Constable.
Her departure comes as Wendy McIvor joins the council for the first time after winning 806 first preference votes and a percentage of 16.74 in the council’s only proportional representation ward of Maryborough.
Yesterday Chris Meddows-Taylor told The Advertiser he wishes his successor well and says he will continue to support his community through other avenues.
He leaves the council after seven years as a councillor including four consecutive years as mayor, after achieving 628 of first preference votes and a percentage of 47.65, against John Van Beveren’s 690 first preference votes and winning percentage of 52.35.
Mr Meddows-Taylor said he believed Mr Van Beveren’s campaigning on the issue of containing rates contributed to the result.
“My belief is that the rising cost of rates can only be addressed by population growth,” he said.
“There are a lot of changes I would have liked to have seen through.”
But Mr Meddows-Taylor, a Talbot resident and consultant by profession, ruled out any prospect of renominating for council in future, instead saying he will focus on other ways to support his community.
“I’ve always been a believer that you move on,” he said.
“It’s been a fantastic council. I have enjoyed every minute of it and I don’t leave with any sense of bitterness.
“I wish John well. I believe that when one door closes you move on.”
Mr Meddows-Taylor is chair of Bendigo Regional Tourism and said he will continue to work to boost tourism and growth in Central Goldfields,
He said he believed he could continue to “usefully support what council is doing without being on council”.
Mr Van Beveren yesterday told The Advertiser he feels “privileged” following the election outcome.
“I’ve got a very privileged position to be able to represent the people of Paddys Ranges,” he said.
“I’d like to thank the ratepayers of the ward for their support and I aim to ensure that the ward continues to move forward in terms of development and the infrastructure that’s required in the area.”
In a speech following Sunday’s poll declaration, outgoing councillor Annie Constable congratulated the new council and thanked her supporters, reserving special acknowledgement for Mr Meddows-Taylor.
“I am sure the 2008-2012 council and executive staff would all acknowledge Chris’s contribution in championing the Go Goldfields, the first heritage region, Neighbourhood renewal, Advancing Country Towns and the long-awaited return of the passenger rail just to name a few,” she said.
Wendy McIvor referred to her debut nomination to the council as “an absolute privilege”.
“I hope that I can do justice to the support that’s been offered to me,” she said.
“And I hope that I can assist this council to move Maryborough to a place that we want it to be in the future.”
In Maryborough ward, mayor Paula Nixon was returned convincingly after securing the highest number of first preference votes — 1073, and a percentage of 22.28.
The voters of Maryborough ward have also returned councillors Geoff Lovett who was second across the line with 22.24 percent, and Barry Rinaldi with 11.71 percent.
In Flynn ward, Cr John Smith is back, defeating Peter Thoonen by a comfortable margin with 895 first preference votes against 293.
And Tullaroop ward voters have returned long-serving councillor Ian Robertson who won 697 of the first preference votes against contender Lyn Curry’s 498.
In the neighbouring municipality of Hepburn, Clunes based businessman and photographer Neil Newitt has been returned.
And across the border in Pyrenees Shire, local newsagency operator Ron Eason has become the new Avoca ward councillor.